domingo, 25 de setembro de 2016


the kindness of strangers

in the London underground, two women limp, side by side on the escalator, halted by its
mechanical hand.  are you hurt? one asks, a flicker of grin, a shared plight.  no just tired
oh and my thigh. a golden accent,  the stunning perfection of the consonants of a southern continent.  life is tiring.  yes she says but we do not want to die.  yes we want to see our children grown.  yes, and our grandchildren. slow steps, breathing almost in sync, the climb,   and through the airy space, the mechanical fingers on the wheel again,  down  into the grind, whisking away this random moment that  has placed us here, a few shared seconds of life,  but only until the machine starts rolling. good luck to you, and -   to you too!- here is to the child you have so been wanting,  to those twenty years, to what keeps us here.

sábado, 24 de setembro de 2016

('thanks for the poem' poem)

Get up, quick shower, hit the road.
Whatever, whoever is out there, how
Can you ever really know. You
Break bread with a stranger,  he or
She has the eyes of someone you
Once loved.  A shadow in her wistful
Smile.  But no guile.  Perhap some
Fear.  It is hard to trust, so hard. So
Next to impossible.

terça-feira, 20 de setembro de 2016

first draft

all humans

you, my dear playmate, are no better
than others.  if the deer come to feed
from your hand, it is but a moment. cruelty
is on the order of the day, humankind has
been at it forever.  there have been ovens
and other infernos, but it is the slow and
almost imperceptible destruction that is
preferred.  you can almost pretend
it is nothing, a slip up, a deferred
pleasure, a temporary scare, even a stream
 of toxins that runs clear by the time it hits
 your side of the river.    we don´t speak
the same language.  everything you say
comes upside down or in quotations, except
one phrase:  all monsters are human.  
the patient animals wait on, they hover
for feed and respite

sexta-feira, 9 de setembro de 2016

Horses, humans and literature.

Here is a fragment from the great 20th century Brazilian writer, Clarice Lispector.  For those of you who are interested in the theme, check out an earlier post here, a poem by the Mexican poet Germaine Calderón, 'Ya no soy un caballo', in original and translation (mine; posted February 19th, 2016)

Eu diria: se pudesse ter escolhido, queria ter nascido cavalo. Mas -quem sabe- talvez o cavalo ele-mesmo não sinta o grande símbolo da vida livre que nós sentimos nele.  Devo então concluir que o cavalo seria sobretudo para ser sentido por mim?  O cavalo representa a animalidade bela e solta do ser humano?  O melhor do cavalo o ente humano já tem?  Então abdico de ser um cavalo e com glória passo para minha humanidade. O cavalo me indica o que sou.  (Clarice Lispector, Seco Estudo de Cavalos)

I might say:  if I could have chosen, I would have been born a horse.  But - who knows - perhaps the horse itself is unaware of what a great symbol of a life of freedom we see in it.  So then, shall I conclude that the horse exists above all so that I can feel what it is?  Does the horse represent the loose, beautiful animality of the human being?  Is the best of the horse already in us?  Then let me give up being a horse and gloriously move on to my humanity. The horse shows me what I am.  (translation:  Miriam Adelman)

segunda-feira, 5 de setembro de 2016

Na França tem trem pinga-pinga...

Cold, wet, early September.  I get on the 9:46 train Boulogne-sur-mer to Paris, after a perfect weekend rendezvous with my sister, who has crossed the English channel to meet me before returning home to Chicago.  Why here rather than London?  The high cost of living. getting lost in a big city, or fanning the fantasies of a simpler life, one we have  never  had...

I pull the several layers I am wearing more tightly around me.  The long ride ahead promises several stops, and I am hoping that as we move southward, the thermometer climbs, even if only a degree or two.  I have taken a seat in what I gather is the first class car -carpeted, with plush seats like the one I sink into. Though it isn´t what I have paid for, the train in empty on the Monday after the vacation season has ended, and besides, on my way here, the railroad clerk paced up and down between cars but never asked to see our tickets.  My wager is on more of the same.

From the tracks, some of the towns we stop in, or whizz eagerly past with not even a gesture in their direction, have a depressed, decaying air to them.  There was one that must be a kind of ghost town à la française;  others perhaps fare better, further from the railway station, which is what I wonder about when I see dilapidated buildings, one of them all boarded up and bearing a half-dismantled side reading 'Centre Social',  as we pull  quickly into and out of a place called Abbeville. 

Yet the French countryside is lush in its summer's end exuberance,  and I think of the autumn that is beginning to seep into the breezes and chills the drizzle of days,  how it brushes me with its lessons of changing seasons, my life long ago in the temperate zones, the splurge, surge of colors. Yet here I am now at the halfway point on this most recent adventure, and - before the  cold heart of northern winter in this hemisphere has too much of a chance to mistreat me-  will return  to an adopted country, engulfed in more turmoil than I had ever expected.  And I won´t be able to turn around, to ask for a second chance, to go over mistaken steps or garner the extra time needed to perfect the way a tongue rolls, lips pucker, sounds join and join and separate again... A last chance, perhaps, to reinvent routes, landscapes, encounters?  How thin the line that separates chance and beauty, the austerity of work, routines honed in need or belief.  Tout (ne) peut (pas) changer!